Now, people may die as a result of the Swaziland Government’s mismanagement of the economy.
As the money runs out, doctors in the kingdom are not being paid their on-call allowances – even though the government had said health services would not be affected by the economic meltdown.
To force the government to pay, doctors have threatened not to respond to emergencies, ‘something that is going to place people’s lives in danger,’ according to a report in the Swazi Observer, the newspaper in effect owned by King Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarch.
The newspaper reports, ‘Last month [November 2010], government announced a freeze on overtime allowances for civil servants, but had said nurses and doctors were not going to be affected. However, non-availability of funds has forced government to ignore its responsibility to pay doctors their allowances.
‘In the past lives were lost when medical staff effected a work-to-rule strategy and chances are that if doctors live up to their threat the country could be headed for a crisis where getting medical attention was concerned.’
‘Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Health, Stephen Shongwe, confirmed that doctors were not paid, stating that it was due to circumstances beyond the ministry’s control. He said doctors should understand that.
‘Shongwe said government had challenges with its cash-flow at the moment but the doctors would be paid, hopefully next month.
‘Asked where government would have got the money by then, he stated that he believed there would be money in the coffers. Shongwe said sometimes they had to give doctors cheques but it was impossible now because of the cash-flow.
Last month, I questioned whether we could believe Majozi Sithole, the Swazi Finance Minister, when he said the spending cuts the government wanted to make to stop the economy collapsing completely would not fall on health or education. It looks like I was right.
The failure to pay doctors is only one of a number of examples of how the Swaziland Government is failing to pay its bills due to what it likes to call a ‘cash-flow crisis’. Click on the links below to see other examples.
GOVERNMENT NOT PAYING ITS BILLS
GOVERNMENT CAN’T PAY THE RENT